20 Yoga Teachers of Color to Watch in 2020

One of our core missions as a brand is to build an authentic and inclusive community centered around sustainability. True wellness and sustainability can only take place when the entire community is well, yet there has always been a focus on the individual and we'd like to be a part of shifting that notion. We are also very aware that both of the wellness and sustainability spaces are dominated by white voices, which is why when Jesal Parikh from Yogawalla and Sophie Griffiths from Feral & True approached us about sponsoring the 2020 list of 20 Yoga Teachers of Color to Watch we were incredibly excited to get involved! We hope this list can amplify the collective work, which often intersects with social and environmental justice, of this incredible list of Teachers. Meet this year's nominees below!

You can learn more about how this project began with 19 Women of Color to Watch in Yoga in 2019. 

This post was originally posted on Yogawalla.

 

Robin Yolanda Lacambra
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Robin Lacambra is the founder of GOODBODYFEEL Movement Studio and the GOODBODYFEEL Movement Method. She is an empowered embodiment educator - blending practices like Pilates, yoga and mindfulness and sharing them from anti-oppression, trauma aware and eating disorder informed frameworks. Robin is also a somatic coach, social justice advocate and eager student of diverse movement practices. Her aim as a movement educator is to help facilitate others to move mindfully and feel good in their bodies as well as recognize the intersection of physical practice and social politics.

As a Filipinx Canadian, Robin is committed to changing the look and feel of North America’s movement industry. She believes in finding a balance between being a for-profit small business that centers community-benefit over maximum profit for few, by experimenting with sliding scale pricing, service exchange and bursaries for marginalized communities. Robin offers exclusive spaces for marginalized communities with rotating teachers that identify within the focus community: Melanated Moves - a weekly drop-in for IBPOC, QT Moves - weekly drop-in for 2SLGBTQIAN+, and Be Abundant - monthly series for people in bigger bodies. Robin created the Sharing Privilege workshop and workbook, offered online and in-person, exploring how we can sustainably share our individual privilege to create more access and abundance for more people. She also offers lectures on Movement for All Bodies: Language and Sequencing (for instructors), Empowered Embodiment: Ego as Ally, Body as Resource, Ambition as Service, and Anchored Ambition: How to grow a career while reducing harm to self, others, and the planet.

@royolaroyola | @goodbodyfeel
goodbodyfeel.com

Constanza Eliana Chinea
Los Angeles, California, USA

Fueled by her own lived experience as Latinx/Boricua, Constanza Eliana’s work focuses on decolonization and liberation for black people, indigenous people, people of color (BIPOC) and allies. When she was seven, she experienced the trauma of moving to the US from Puerto Rico and later, when she began teaching yoga at studios she herself couldn’t afford to practice at, she noticed quickly that studios and teachers were not practicing what they were preaching. She realized that simple mindset shifts could make all the difference. Since then, she’s created a selection of resources for BIPOC and allies, including the groundbreaking Decolonizing Yoga & Wellness series this past year. In 2020, Constanza Eliana is offering Season 2 of the Decolonizing Yoga & Wellness series where POC who work in yoga & wellness unpack what it means to decolonize the industry. She offers a free race equity guide for yogis as well as a free wellness planner on her website. She offers consulting work, as well as special events, including an upcoming Healing in Community Retreat in June and a mini retreat in partnership with Yoga is Dead in July.

@eliana.chinea
linktr.ee/eliana.chinea

Hersha Harilela Chellaram
Hong Kong, China

Yoga runs in Hersha Chellaram's family; the patriarch of her family, who was the first to settle in Hong Kong from India in the 1920s, was known as a household saint and her family has since been helping important spiritual leaders from India spread their messages in China. Though Hersha has been teaching for 18 years, her path truly came into focus when a loved one was diagnosed with a rare disease. She dedicated herself to learning how to serve the most under-represented people in Hong Kong: disabled children and adults, people with chronic illness, caregivers, teens and at-risk youth with mental health challenges, people in prisons, and folks without homes. To serve this community, Hersha and her partner created the YAMA (Yoga, Arts & Meditation Accessible) Foundation - a nonprofit dedicated to teaching yoga and arts in community-based programs. In 2020, YAMA Foundation will organize Hong Kong’s first wellbeing conference targeted at persons with disabilities and special needs. The conference will serve as a platform for Hong Kong-based PWDs, NGOs and wellbeing practitioners to share their work, passions and experiences to help create a more inclusive wellbeing industry.

Aside from her work with YAMA Foundation, Hersha’s personal mission is to educate yogis to be inclusive, accessible, diverse and body positive. She offers trainings in Yoga for the Special Child, Accessible Yoga Teacher Training, Wheelchair Yoga, Prenatal Accessible Yoga and Integral Yoga. She also offers a special course to yoga teachers who want to get started in non-profit work and don’t know where to begin.

@hershayoga | @yamafoundation
hershayoga.com | yamakh.org

Maris Degener
Bay Area, California, USA

For Maris Degener, her first yoga class was pivotal to her eating disorder recovery - so much so that she agreed to be the subject of a documentary called “I Am Maris: Portrait of a Young Yogi,” a film about mental illness, the healing powers of yoga, and ultimately about self-acceptance. In Maris’ words, the documentary (along with her popular blog) helped her to “turn shame into service.” While her service primarily focuses on mental health awareness and destigmatization of eating disorders, depression, and anxiety, particularly in youth/young people, most recently her service has expanded. As a person with mixed Mexican heritage and someone who identifies as queer, she is passionate about equity when it comes to mental and physical health. In addition to her activism work, Maris has expressly used her spotlight to highlight the work of others - featuring a wide array of activists on her blog and social media accounts - and to talk about difficult topics like intersectionality, cultural appropriation, racism, sizeism, inequality of access to health services and more. She hopes to spend even more time in 2020 listening to and uplifting voices that are chronically + systemically overlooked. In addition to all else, Maris is a college student, artist, public speaker, social media marketing consultant, and an advisor for Phoenix Project, a digital platform that delivers immediate trauma-informed healing resources to survivors of sexual assault.

@yogamaris
yogamaris.net/

Jessamyn Stanley
Durham, North Carolina, USA

Jessamyn Stanley is an award winning yoga instructor, intersectional activist, and author of 'Every Body Yoga.' She empowers her audience of over 520k to break down barriers: both those that society has set and that they have set for themselves. Jessamyn's work in the wellness space centers around being in community and creating space for students to restore and honor their authentic selves. Alongside being featured in many national media outlets, Jessamyn broke boundaries for plus size bodies with her February 2019 cover of Yoga Journal.

As a black, queer, femme dyke, Jessamyn is a leading voice on intersectional identity and 21st century yoga. She has won many awards for her social influence and unique approach to yoga. With an articulate message of representation and visibility, Jessamyn also speaks across the country, advocating for body acceptance, female empowerment as well as African American and LGBTQ inclusion. In early 2019, Jessamyn launched an app titled The Underbelly, a series of yoga classes available by web, iOS, and Android and internationally as of this winter. Her virtual yoga studio is a home for wellness misfits who may feel displaced, discouraged or overlooked due to a lack of diversity in the health and fitness community.

@mynameisjessamyn
jessamynstanley.com

Ariana Lozano
Sacramento, CA

Ariana Lozano is a certified yin/restorative yoga instructor, as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist. They also dabble in astrology and tarot through self study. As a Latinx child of immigrants, and trans-queer-non binary, their work centers around creating access for QT/POC folks to find healing and inner peace. They offer sliding scale rates only to folks who self-identify as LGBTQ+ or/and as a person of color. In 2019, they offered workshops such as, "Decolonizing Self-Care: Creating Support Systems in POC Communities", "Summer Solstice 2019: A Gathering for People of Color", and during Transgender Week of Awareness they offered, "A POC meets Rainbow: Restorative Yoga Healing Experience" highlighting the strength, courage, and resilience of gender liberation.

Events to keep an eye out for in 2020: Summer/Winter Solstice, Dia de los Muertos, Clinicians Rx, Trans Week of Awareness, and extended 2-day workshops. You can also join Ariana’s weekly 75-minute class, POC meets Rainbow: Restorative Yoga, in Sacramento.

@pocmeetsrainbow | @ariana_lozano_lmft
lozanoariana.wixsite.com/qtpocmentalhealth

Puja Singh Titchkosky aka Prince Puja
Los Angeles, California, USA

Puja Singh Titchkosky, better known as his artist name, Prince Puja is the embodiment of union - so it seems only fitting for yoga to play an important role in their life. Puja is a musical artist and yoga teacher that unites: East and West (their heritage is Sikh Punjabi and Christian Canadian), love of tradition with an appreciation for the modern (they have released a pop album called “Who Am I 2 U? Mixtape” and a kirtan album titled “Heart Full of Light”) and they identify as nonbinary, queer and gay. Puja teaches asana, meditation and leads monthly kirtans and kirtan trainings. In 2020, Puja is releasing an EP of self-produced and self-written original songs titled “drop of water.” 

@princepuja
princepuja.net/

Donna Noble
London, UK

Donna is the creator of CurveSomeYoga, which is making yoga more inclusive and diverse by holding safe and judgement free space for individuals who do not always feel welcome in mainstream yoga spaces. She is passionate about body positive yoga classes that show that every body is a yoga body, encouraging individuals regardless of their age, size, gender, ability or ethnicity. As an Afro-Caribbean woman, she is actively trying to be more visible so that more people of color will consider doing yoga, because representation matters. Donna is a Wanderlust Ambassador, Body Image Advocate, Accessible Yoga Ambassador and a Be Real Ambassador.

In 2020, you can join Donna for her Urban Yoga Retreat in London later this month and Self Love Retreat in Kent in May.

 @donnanobleyoga | @curvesomeyoga
linktr.ee/donnanobleyoga | linktr.ee/curvesomeyoga

Manoj Dias
New York, USA / Melbourne, Australia

Manoj is Sri Lankan born and raised in Australia in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. He focuses on bringing meditation, mindfulness and community to populations that are on the margins or do not have access to these practices and he is the founder of A—SPACE, Australia’s first multidisciplinary meditation studio. He has supported trauma informed mindfulness work for recently settled refugees, taking meditation practices to indigenous communities and strives for greater representation of people of color in yoga and wellness spaces, across Australia and the United States. A lot of his work is also working with men of all backgrounds, re-thinking old paradigms of masculinity and spirituality and creating a more embodied version of 'man’.

In 2020 he will take Still Together, a mass meditation and story-telling event he founded around the globe, with events planned in New York, London, Sydney, Chicago and Melbourne. He will also releasing his first book, hosting 2 silent meditation retreats in Bali and Australia and delivering an online platform, centering meditation teachers and story-tellers of color.

@manojdias_ | @_aspace
linktr.ee/manojdias_ | a-space.com.au

Janessa Mondestin
Northern New Jersey & New York State, USA

Thirteen years ago, Janessa Mondestin received a diagnosis for an autoimmune condition that motivated her recommit to fitness. She became a fitness model, personal trainer, nutrition coach, and even competed in a bikini athlete competition. Yoga was initially a way for Janessa to balance her weekend-warrior athletic events, weight-training, and corporate banking job. Over time, yoga & ayurveda have become bigger and bigger parts of her life. In fact, Janessa will be leading an Ayurvedic retreat in Kerala in 2020. Janessa is the founder of Soulthentic Yoga (which has an upcoming teacher training this spring) and a producer and online teacher for Yoga International. She is a yoga therapist who is developing The Soma Yoga, a Yoga Therapy Wellness Clinic for WomXn. Janessa’s experience as a daughter of Haitian immigrants, as a sexual violence and assault survivor and her experience with grief and loss has informed her renewed focus on healing, resiliency and love. As part of that work, she will be offering private somatic therapy & group yoga therapy session for survivors of trauma, specifically in relation to: spinal injuries, pregnancy and post-partum & sexual assault. Janessa is also an advocate for sexual assault survivors and a public speaker.

@janessamondestin | @soulthenticyoga
iamjanessa.com | soulthenticyoga.com

Luvena Rangel
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Luvena Rangel’s academic background in medicine and holistic health became very personal when a horrific accident left her with a severely compromised spine and a grim prognosis. She credits yoga with helping her to recover and was inspired to become a teacher, leaving behind a corporate job. Today she is both a proud single mother of three and one of India’s trailblazing yoga teachers. She is the founder of The Curvy Yogi – a body positive, inclusive, mind-body approach for practitioners in larger bodies. She offers her expertise in yoga for spinal injuries and thyroid imbalance, integrative anatomy, prenatal yoga, Ayurveda, meditation, philosophy, and teaching methodology to several teacher trainings and her to corporate wellness clients. She is an active voice in cultural representation of Indian teachers and addressing cultural appropriation of yoga in the international context. Born and raised as an Indian of Christian faith in the Middle East, she passionately believes that yoga is for everyone regardless of faith, physical shape, size, gender, sexual orientation or even physical limitations. Most recently, Luvena has served as an advisory for Yoga Alliance in their Standards Review Project in their working group for inclusion and been a featured speaker in Susanna Barkataki’s Honor Yoga Summit. In 2020, Luvena plans to focus on yoga & wellness for the deaf and blind communities and augment diversity in the workplace.

@curvyyogime
curvyyogime.wordpress.com

Nicole Cardoza
New York, New York, USA

As a black woman, Nicole is passionate about increasing wealth and opportunity for marginalized leaders in wellness so their work can thrive. She is an innovative entrepreneur who has an uncanny ability to see and seize opportunities, which she uses for the advantage of her work to uplift others. Nicole is the founder and Executive Director of Yoga Foster, a national nonprofit that empowers educators with yoga and mindfulness resources for the classroom. In less than five years, Yoga Foster has reached nearly 100,000 students (many of whom struggle with issues like hunger and sleep deprivation) in 4,000 classrooms across the U.S. Nicole is also the founder of Reclamation Ventures, a fund that invests in high-potential, underestimated entrepreneurs making wellness more accessible in their communities. Nicole founded Reclamation Ventures in 2019 in response to a very public controversy with Yoga Journal magazine - a situation where she turned travesty into triumph, raising enough money to award the first Reclamation Venture grant. In 2020, Reclamation ventures will award its third grant. This year, Nicole will be expanding her programs, traveling to two new countries, and kicking off another tour with her nonprofit.

@nicoleacardoza | @yogafoster | @reclamationventures
nicolecardoza.com | yogafoster.org | reclamationventures.co

Hien Hong
Tacoma, Washington, USA

As a young teenager, Hien discovered that practicing yoga was helpful in her journey toward healing from trauma. She hopes to inspire others on their journey to self compassion by offering restorative and trauma informed yoga, and sharing Patanjali’s eight limbs, klesha and brahmavihara in her yoga teaching. She teaches high schoolers at a public school and offers monthly yoga and meditation practices for womxn and people of color in Tacoma. As a Vietnamese American and daughter of immigrants, Hien was inspired by the Yoga is Dead Podcast to co-lead a workshop at a local yoga studio discussing race/diversity and plans to host more in 2020. She also has local yoga and mindfulness retreats coming up, and will soon be offering online workshops so watch this space!

@hienhongyoga
linktr.ee/hienhongyoga

Dianne Bondy
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Though Dianne was introduced to yoga by her mother when she was just 3-years old she never stepped foot into a studio until after the birth of her first son. Those studio experiences left lasting impressions - ones that would lead Dianne to write a blog post for the Elephant Journal titled “Yoga Isn’t Just for Skinny White Girls” and to open a yoga studio that was much more welcoming than the receptions she had received elsewhere. The blog post was eight years ago and as it turns out, it was just the beginning for Dianne. Since then, she has become a yoga teacher, writer and activist who focuses on diversity, inclusivity and accessibility in yoga. She founded Yoga for All/Everyone, through which she offers retreats, workshops and her powerful speaking voice for events. She’s also written a book entitled “Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses For Every Type of Body” and has guest written in several other books and authored articles in several high profile publications. She leads online yoga classes on her Youtube channel as well as through Yoga International, Omstars and Yoga Girl. She has co-hosted a podcast called “It’s Not About Me.” In 2020, Dianne has a full schedule of workshops, festivals and retreats across the US, Canada, UK and France. You can visit her website to find out more. Dianne identifies as a proud, black woman.

@diannebondyyoga
linktr.ee/DianneBondyYoga

Julio Riveria
New York, USA

Julio is Founder of Liberate, the only meditation app by and for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community. As an Afro-Latino, he is passionate about building this community, with several hundreds of people using it every day. Julio believes that healing not only happens in listening to a guided meditation from someone that can relate to your experience, but also through conversation with other folks of color. This is why he is excited for people to be able to share their experiences with the meditations in the app - allowing this community to grow and one day hold offline experiences such as meditation retreats.

Julio sees Liberate as a catalyst for self-love and love with each other in our communities of color. This is demonstrated in Liberate’s talk "Liberating Ourselves From Internalized Racism" where Dr. Kamilah Majied, who identifies as a Black woman, and Dr. Vaishali Mamgain, who identifies as a South Asian woman, beautifully model the solidarity that our future holds.

@julio.a.rivera | @liberatemeditation
liberatemeditation.com

Shayla Stonechild
Vancouver, Canada

As an Nehiyaw Iskwew (Plains Cree) womxn from Muscowpetung First Nations, Shayla Stonechild has always been a catalyst towards Indigenous youth unlocking their full potential. By reclaiming their voices, bodies and spirit that have been silenced and stolen throughout history. There is a shift happening in humanity right now and she believes the arts, meditation, movement and medicine (coming back to an indigenous worldview) is a part of that shift. She is the founder of the “Matriarch Movement” a meditation and movement practice dedicated to bringing awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn and Girls crisis that is happening throughout Turtle Island (aka North America). In a capitalistic, colonialist, patriarchal society where indigenous womxn are often "invisible" or treated as “less than,” sharing our stories, meditation, movement and medicine is an act of decolonization and reclamation of my body, my voice, my power and my spirit.

Coming up in 2020, Shayla will be hosting several workshops including Juice Truck x CMMN GRND, Prairie Snowflake Festival, Victoria Yoga Conference, Unapologetically Her at STRIPPED and Gathering Our Voices Conference. She will also be teaching at a new yoga studio in Vancouver called CMMN GRND that is creating an inclusive environment. Their intention is to make each class accessible no matter the race, gender, ability etc.

@shaylaOh
shaylastonechild.com

Nam Chanterrwyn
San Diego, CA USA

Nam Chanterrwyn is an E-CYT500 teacher, focusing on anatomy, biomechanics and mindfulness. He aims to make yoga poses accessible to everyone by focusing on skillful movement and control, versus emphasizing flexibility and deep ranges of motion. His students are encouraged to work on the key components of the poses instead of what the pose should look like. As a YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider) educator, Nam has been considered by his community as a "Teacher’s Teacher" who enjoys helping students as well as other teachers further their study and understanding of yoga and movement. You can find Nam on Yoga International, including a Featured Teacher segment in February 2020 with new programs and classes.

@yoganam
yoganam.yoga

Malaika Maitland
St George, Grenada

Malaika Maitland has been teaching yoga for 10 years and is currently training to become a Professional Yoga Therapist at Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. Once she started teaching, she quickly realized that most people would benefit from therapeutic programs that are specifically customized to their physical needs and wellness goals. Pathways for therapy, yogic or otherwise, are hard to find in Grenada, so she is working to expand access to wellness pathways on the island.

In 2011 Malaika co-founded Spice Harmony Yoga, and is currently developing a center for wellness retreats, self-care holidays, co-working, yoga and community. Such a space is necessary because in Grenada there is a scarcity of “third spaces”, which encourage and facilitate interpersonal connection, creativity, healthy eating and healing through yoga and productivity. Alongside this work, Malaika also supports the wellbeing of mothers and families as a Mama Glow Doula Trainee, providing assistance throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Malaika is a visual artist and an official photographer at the Black Yoga Teacher Alliance Conferences. At the heart of Malaika’s work, in both the creative and healing arts, is an understanding that individual transformation is deeply connected to collective change and social justice.

 @malaikamaitland | @spiceharmonyyoga
malaikamaitland.com | spiceharmonyyoga.com

Arundhati Baitmangalkar
Redmond, Washington, USA

Arundhati Baitmangalkar started her career as a professional Bollywood dance choreographer and instructor. Though she still dances, and even owns a dance studio called Bollyworks, she fell deeply for yoga about seven years ago when she was still living in her native South India. She spent a full year immersing herself in the teachings and studying under various masters, before moving to the greater Seattle area and opening Aham yoga studio. Arundhati wants to offer her diverse array of students (many of whom are of South Asian descent and see themselves reflected in Arundhati) authentic yoga that covers more than just asana. In addition to her fundamentals and advanced teacher trainings, Aham also offers a Pranayama TT (the first of its kind in the area) as well as weekend immersions that explore chanting, meditation and breathwork. Recognizing the need for ongoing support and community for yoga teachers, she offers all of her graduates lifetime access to the trainings which allows them to sit in on lectures, revisit topics, practice with their colleagues and ask questions - all at no additional cost. Having learned and taught yoga in both India and the US, Arundhati’s offers her unique insight on her Youtube channel, where plans to put more of her focus in 2020.

@arundhati_baitmangalkar
ahamyoga.com

Rane Bowen
Melbourne, Australia

Rane Bowen has a passion for the more peaceful aspects of yoga. Though he’s no stranger to a strong flow or an arm balance, his passion for meditation and gentle yoga deepened when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer (he’s been living without a stomach for the past four years). Today, he co-owns Garden of Yoga with his wife Jo Stewart. Garden of Yoga is a yoga studio that includes accessible and inclusive aerial yoga, aerial yoga therapeutics, gentle yoga, nurturing yoga and pilates and other down-regulating offerings among its programs. Rane also teaches chair yoga and currently pursuing level 1 iRest training. Together with Jo, Rane also co-hosts The Flow Artists Podcast, which all about yoga, movement and meditation with an emphasis on social justice and accessibility in yoga.

Peacefulness is a thread in Rane’s identity. He is part Maori originally from New Zealand (he hails from Ngati Tama, Ngati Ruanui, Te Atiawa, and Taranaki iwi tribes). Among his ancestors are Te Whiti and Tohu - two spiritual teachers and leaders who were considered prophets and who lead the people of their village Parihaka in a campaign of passive resistance against the English military.

@ranelovesyoga
linktr.ee/ranelovesyoga